FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE 279 colleague, Chao Lingshih of the royal family,* to look at refugees trudging through the deep snow. Chao tells how he was waked up next morning before dawn by Su, ^/"I have not been able to sleep all night," Su told him. "I must do something about the refugees. Perhaps we can take grain from the government granary and make wheat cakes to feed them. My wife says that when we were passing through Chenchow, Fu Chinchih told us about his success in giving famine relief. We forgot to ask him exactly what he did. That's why I'm calling you. Do you have any suggestions?" "I have thought about it," replied Chao. "These people need only food and fuel. There are several thousand piculs of grain in the govern- ment granary which we can distribute at once. There are also several thousand tons of firewood at the wine bureau—we can give it to the poor people." "Good," replied Su Tungpo, "Let's do it immediately." Thus some temporary relief was given to the immediate neighbour- hood. But the officials in the neighbouring district south of the Huai River were still imposing a tax on the traffic in grains and firewood, and Su Tungpo wrote to the government to stop this nonsense, now when the greatest freedom of movement of food and fuel supplies was necessary. r In February. 1092, Su Tungpo wasi transferred to Yangchow. His eldest son had been appointed to serve as a magistrate elsewhere. But he took his two younger sons with him on his way to Yangchow to visit the different districts of Anhuei. He dismissed the attendants and went to the villages to talk with the people. There he saw an incredible spectacle. The land was covered with green wheat-fields, but many farmhouses were deserted. A year of good crops was what the farmers most feared, because the clerks and soldiers of the district governments would come and press them for the return of capital loans and interest and throw them in jail. When he reached Yangchow, Su Tungpo said in his letter of thanks for the new post that "both good years and bad years have become calamities for the people". The farmers and the business-men of China were trapped. They had to choose between the alternatives of hunger and starvation during a famine year and court proceedings and jail sentences in a good year. This then was the aftermath of Wang Anshih's social reforms. While at Hangchow, besides pestering the government with requests for money and grain to forestall a coming famine, Su Tungpo had sent also a long memorandum on the forgiveness of debts owed by the people to the government. Trade was paralysed and even rich families * Taking warning from the rebellion of princes of royal blood which ended tibe Tang dynasty, the Sung house gave its princes hardly any power at aH.